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The Function of Soliloquies

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Shakespeare relies heavily on soliloquies to help the reader understand Prince Hamlet. Hamlet is often speaking out loud when he is by himself. This lets the reader know what Hamlet is actually thinking despite what he is telling others around him (Mittelstaedt 126-27). The majority of the soliloquies are moments when Hamlet is overwhelmed by emotion at his situation and deeply upset. Hamlet’s sadness is what the play revolves around. In the play, Hamlet is dealt hand after hand of misfortune by Lady Luck. If Hamlet were not upset, the story would not make sense (Bradley 107). Another aspect of Hamlet’s personality that powers the play is his mind. He is a deep thinker surrounded by shallow individuals, and his “extraordinary mind” lets him react differently to situations than the people around him (Soellner 176). In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the soliloquies offer a deeper look into Hamlet’s state of mind throughout the play.

Before the first soliloquy, Hamlet has come home from college to attend his father’s funeral and his mother, Gertrude’s, wedding. However, Gertrude has married the king’s brother Claudius, which was considered morally deplorable. He wishes that “…the Everlasting had not fixed/ His cannon ‘gainst self-slaughter” (1.2.135-36). Hamlet is overwrought by the situation. He used to admire his mother for how much she loved King Hamlet, but now he just sees her as a wanton woman in an incestuous marriage with a vile man that he despises. Above all else, Hamlet is shocked at his mother’s prompt remarriage, and he is disappointed that she would sink to such a low level (Bradley 104). In Hamlet’s opinion “…a beast that wants discourse of reason/ Would have mourned longer” (1.2. 155-56). Even though it is not considered mu...

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... order to keep his plan a secret. However, the reader still knows who he is. Hamlet’s innermost workings and true character are brought to the stage through the soliloquies.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold, ed. "Key Passages in Hamlet." Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 20 Mar. 2014

Boklund, Gunnar, “Judgement in Hamlet.” Essays on Shakespeare. Binghamton: Vail-Ballou Press, 1965. 116-37. Print.

Bradley, A.C. “Hamlet’s Melancholy.” Reading on the Tragedies of William Shakespeare. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. 100-08. Print.

Mittelstaedt, Walt. A Student’s Guide to William Shakespeare. Berkely Heights: Enslow Publishers, 2005. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York: Washington Square, 1992. Print.

Soellner, Rolf. Shakespeare’s Patterns of Self-Knowledge. Ohio State UP: Ohio State University Press, 1972. Print.
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